Fear & Hope

Fear is all around us. We watch scary movies. We are afraid because of terrorists, diseases, and natural disasters. We are afraid for our children, our parents, ourselves. So when we read in the Scriptures to not be afraid, it can appear to be a pipe dream. What is this power that God seems to think we have to not be afraid? That power is hope!

In Matthew 8 there is an interesting story about Jesus, the disciples, a boat, and a rain storm:

When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, ” Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. (Matthew 8:23-26)

I am struck by Jesus’ question, “Why are you afraid?” He connects their fear with their lack of faith in the second part of the question, doesn’t He?  He isn’t talking here of saving faith.  He is talking about the faith to live everyday life. You see, faith is a special Bible word to describe a certain type of trust. Yes, it is the type of trust that solidifies our side of salvation. However, it is more than that. We are invited to keep living in that trust everyday. That is what Jesus is saying simply in His question to them. In other words, He is saying – “Why are you afraid if you are trusting me to take care of you everyday? Is your faith in my care really so shaky?” That is where hope comes in. Hope is the lived out expression of our trust. It is not an emotion or mere wishing. It is the perspective we get when we live in our trust.

So, how does a person get good at hope? Well, here is the rub… Trust comes with experience. It can’t be fabricated nor is there a shortcut to get there. Paul describes it this way:

And not only this [rejoicing in the glory of God], but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;  and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)

He rejoiced (exulted) in struggles because they proved something. They proved over and over that God would always be there for us in Christ. We would persevere because of Jesus. As we persevered our character would be honed. That change of character would affirm our trust and give us hope. Why? Because the growing of Godly character in us shows us that God will never leave us or abandon us – He loves us!

No shortcut – just lived out love. God’s love for us and our love for God lived out in the arena of life with all its bumps, cuts, and bruises. When He changes us, we are reminded again that He told us that He would empower us to face challenges and grow. What happens then? Our trust grows too.

So, when you go through those hard times, keep trusting God. You are laying a foundation for hope. That hope will not disappoint you. It will remind you that you are never alone. God goes before you. He upholds you. He cares for you everyday. Then, you and I can face the future without fear.

Something to think about,

Pastor John

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